My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

People Trying to Help The Birds

a bonaparte's gull
Bonaparte’s Gull along Lake Erie

This weekend Young Naturalist J and I heard about some dead Common Loons that were found along Lake Erie (and had to check it out). We made a little detour from some roadside birding to check a public beach to see if the rumors were true. We found 4 dead loons in just one small area of the beach and it was soo sad seeing these guys. I found a press release that was released today discussing the die off of these Common Loons in this area and as we expected, they died due to Type E Botulism!

Dead Common Loon along Lake Erie
Dead Common Loon along Lake Erie

It appears from the press release that over 100 dead loons have been found this past week in this area that we were birding. The Type E Botulism has been killing birds in Lake Erie since 2000 and is tied to the loons feeding on Round Goby and quagga mussels. These invasive species are the current link to Type E Botulism . . . .and as these invasive species increase . . . the death of of these birds, fish and mudpuppies have also increased!

Dead Common Loon
Dead Common Loon killed by Type E Botulism

I couldn’t do this post without mentioning the oil spill that happened in San Francisco Bay last week Wednesday. As of yesterday evening (Tuesday) the Oiled Wildlife Care Network has washed (and saved) 244 birds and reported 590 deaths of birds. I did a quick flickr search and found a series of oiled spilled loon and cormorant photos on Trish Carney’s Photostream. She is showing the amazing volunteer work that so many like her have been doing trying to save many of these oiled birds.


Oiled Loon (Photo by Trish Carney used with permission )

Besides those working directly with the birds, there were over 500 volunteers this weekend that helped clean the spilled oil from the San Francisco Bay. One of these individuals was photographer KO Ichiro who also gave me permission to post one of his pictures (of those help cleaning the beach)! I am so mesmerized by the multiple photos everyone have been capturing on this sad event.


Cleaning the Beach (Photo by KO ichiro used with permission).

Birds are dying around us and it is good to know that there are people out their making a difference! Scientist have been looking at the stomach contents of the Loons in Lake Erie and learning exactly how these birds are getting the Botulism disease. Lets hope they are come up with something to stop these deaths. Then there are those hundreds of volunteers who are doing everything they can to make a difference after some idiot drove a tanker ship into the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. So many have made a difference in helping and sometimes it is hard when you feel helpless and unable to help (like I felt this weekend with the loons)! But ,I do feel better knowing that there are so many people out their trying to saving these birds, one bird at a time!


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Related Links:
More info on Type E Botulism from Sea Grant Michigan

More info on the California Oil Spill visit
National Public Radio
UC Davis: Oiled Wildlife
International Bird Rescue Research
DC Birding Blog (Another Oil Spill) (Oil Spill in California) (Oil Spill Roundup)
Mike’s Birding and Digiscoping Blog (Bird’s Threatened by Spill)

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24 responses

  1. Lisa at Greenbow

    These are sad events indeed. It makes one feel so helpless and in regard to the mussles carrying botulism hopeless.

    14 November 2007 at 9:29 pm

  2. I read the article last weekend about the botulism and was astounded at the numbers of birds that had died. Like Lisa said, it leaves one feeling very helpless.

    14 November 2007 at 9:39 pm

  3. It is heartbreaking to see one dead bird, much less many of them.

    I am grateful that there are so many people going out there to help the birds.

    14 November 2007 at 11:11 pm

  4. @ Lisa – sad for sure and helpless is a perfect way of putting it!
    @ Ruth – Isn’t it sad?? It is even worse when you see such great birds like this!
    @ Veery – heartbreaking for sure! At least they are trying! I am happy to hear about what they are doing over in CA!

    14 November 2007 at 11:15 pm

  5. What a shame for the loons on Lake Erie. I just read today about the dissapearance of the blue pike in Lake Erie (probably from invasive species.) It’s sad to see a loon covered in oil from SF. The fog gets so thick there (I lived in the central valley not far from SF for most of my life) you can’t navigate anything sometimes. I’ve seen it where you can’t see your hand held out in front of you. It’s terribly scary. The fact the ship’s electronic navigation radar equipment wasn’t working properly should have been warning enough to just stop until they got help. Especially since they were carrying all that fuel aboard. Idiots! What an ecological mess!

    15 November 2007 at 12:21 am

  6. Sad indeed – I saw some evidence of oiling to various degrees on all 3 of my bird walks in the SF bay shores last weekend.

    On a bright note, however, our local bird email lists are a-buzz with people looking to help, and folks posting info on how to get involved.

    Too bad about your loons’ botulism epidemic – invasive nonnative species are a bad deal all around!

    15 November 2007 at 1:12 am

  7. It’s a good thing that there are people trying to help because there are enough people doing things to harm birds both directly and indirectly.

    15 November 2007 at 1:38 am

  8. Oh so very sad….

    15 November 2007 at 6:41 am

  9. @ Erie – It is very sad for sure both botulism and the oil spill! Thanks for your inside on SF Bay and the fog!! I have never been their before!
    @ Adam – I almost sent you an email asking to use one of your gull photos but wasn’t dramatic enough for the message that I was trying to portray! I bet the list-serv has been going crazy! I sure hope you can update us on your blog what happens in the future when we forget all about the spill!
    @ Larry – I so agree, thanks!
    @ Jayne – 😦 sad for sure!

    15 November 2007 at 7:34 am

  10. There was a huge die-off of bluebills (1000+) earlier this month in northern Minnesota. It was caused by the ingestion of snails containing trematodes. It’s always sad to see such numbers perish.

    15 November 2007 at 10:06 am

  11. Wow, I feel bad for the loons. What a horrible loss.

    15 November 2007 at 5:37 pm

  12. banderparents

    Nice blog. I was very moved. The pictures are very poignant and make me ask “what can we do to make it stop” How can we learn and see that is never happens again. I understand the oil spill was negligence and the company will be fined, but will they learn?

    15 November 2007 at 6:03 pm

  13. naturespalette

    Is that “oiled loon” supposed to be white?!!!? Your loons are very different looking than ours (Minnesota), but they appear to be mostly white. This is so disgusting, these poor animals.

    15 November 2007 at 6:14 pm

  14. That is so sad! It would have of been one thing if it was more of an abundance species, but loons out off all of the birds 😦

    15 November 2007 at 6:16 pm

  15. naturespalette

    Wait, it says “common loon” so those would be the same as ours. I guess they look different when they’re dead. That makes me even more sick!

    15 November 2007 at 6:36 pm

  16. @ Lynne – that is soo sad! Thanks for sharing!
    @ Chicago – it is for sure! Thanks
    @ Banderparents – thanks and lets hope it never does happen again! They were not even from the United States, which is what got me! Heard on NPR that they wouldn’t even speak to officials one on one!
    @ naturepalette – the oiled loon should have a white underbelly but was oiled! Not for the bird at all! The dead one shows its underside which is white and you can’t really see the black back of the bird! Thanks though
    @ Birdbander11 – it is a shame for sure and it would be like you eating bad hotdogs!! They taste good and so you eat more! Then you get very sick but instead of not going to school you die! That’s what is happening to these loons!
    @ Naturepalette – They should be the same and do note that you are mostly looking at the white belly and you can’t see their black backs! I always like to report happy things but sometimes we need to report the bad things! SORRY

    15 November 2007 at 6:59 pm

  17. Great post, Tom. It’s tragic to see these birds dying, almost always because of the ignorance and stupidity of people.

    And don’t forget the burgeoning tragedy in the Black Sea that might make SF seem like a minor misstep.

    16 November 2007 at 1:05 am

  18. Marg

    I just did a blog post for TBO last night about that (the oil spills that is)-there is another great Blog from a volunteer working in SanFran How’s Robb great details on rescues-her surf scoter shot is excellent

    so sad about the loons too-I love loons 😦

    16 November 2007 at 8:22 am

  19. The story saddens me – I could hardly look at the death… But, you are right, we need to have faith in the good of people. I’d be there…

    16 November 2007 at 9:17 am

  20. @ Marty – thanks and it is tragic seeing them this way! yes, that is huge and it’s in one of Mike’s links that I included on the bottom! But, being outside the US, it sometimes gets overlooked! thanks
    @ Marg – I did see that post and how excellent that Robb is out their helping them! Surf Scoters! Such a shame!
    @ Mary – sorry you did look and I hate that I have to post things like this on my site! Although I do feel that sometimes it is important to be aware of what is happening! Just imagine some of the problems would could have if they started drilling for oil in Alaska??

    16 November 2007 at 11:01 am

  21. sueorkin

    just to see those pictures is so saddening

    – sue orkin

    16 November 2007 at 1:37 pm

  22. Thanks for commenting sueorkin and I agree it is sad! I do feel at times that we need to be aware of what’s happening around us!

    16 November 2007 at 6:38 pm

  23. I love loons, too. Seeing one pass through here is so rare–sad to think the numbers might be affected by this occurrence.
    I guess the lesson here is–never take for granted the security of numbers–it can all change very rapidly.

    16 November 2007 at 10:45 pm

  24. Oh Tom. This is pretty upsetting. I can’t imagine the feelings you experienced observing these birds.

    Yes, I too, try to find solace in knowing that there are good people trying to help.

    17 November 2007 at 6:48 pm

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